Austria invited Hedy Epstein, a Jewish pro-Palestinian activist whom the Anti-Defamation League criticized for demonizing Israel, to represent Holocaust survivors at a panel discussion about women during World War II.
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In invitations sent out Friday by the office of the president of the Austrian parliament, Epstein, who has likened Israel to Nazi Germany, was described as a peace and human rights activist. She is the only Jewish guest slated to speak at the event, scheduled to take place March 8.
The ADL in 2005 listed statements made by Epstein, who was born in Germany and spent most of World War II in Britain, first among examples of anti-Israel campus activism that “would meet both the United States government’s and [Natan] Sharansky’s definitions of anti-Semitism.” The ADL statement was in response to a lecture given by Epstein in 2004 at Stanford University, in which she compared the Nazi treatment of Jews to Israeli treatment of Palestinians.
Epstein has participated in several actions to break Israel’s blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip and has signed numerous petitions by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel.
Born in Germany in 1924, she left the country in 1939 on a Kindertransport – the name for efforts to rescue European children of the era to the relative safety of Britain – where she spent the war years.